Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mass Movement for Migrants Rights 2010 on the threshold of history-the Last Stage

Mass Movement for Migrants Rights 2010 on the threshold of history-the Last Stage

Similar to the epoch of 2006, but contributing its own characteristics, as a whole, the process of today has already entered the massive and irreversible galvanization that apparently is about to reach the coveted goal, the big prize, immigration reform.

by Javier Rodriguez Political Strategist Los Angeles February 17, 2010


Once again the US movement for immigrant rights is in the threshold of history. This last stage for legalization and immigration reform has arrived and it’s moving fast. Though the political conditions are difficult, the long-awaited legislation that will empower the millions of undocumented now in the shadows, could well be debated and approved by congress and signed by President Barack Obama in the next months. To put the legislative strategy in motion, the nation is expecting the immigration proposal of Senators (D)Schumer and (R)Graham to be introduced in the coming weeks. At the same time the movement and its leadership have changed the tone of their political message and pressure on Washington by calling for a large mass mobilization on March 21st. The potential catalyst event will gather an estimated 100,000 people plus.

The general background to these developments is the global economic crisis and the wall street bailout with colossal gifts of hundreds of billions of dollars to the same financial class known to be the root of the country’s economic downfall. The millions of jobs lost have not been replaced and the double digit unemployment continues unabated. Millions of homeowners have been displaced from their homes, the health reform bill is paralyzed while the empire's wars have no end and the future of the middle and working class has diminished greatly.

In the area of immigration there is the long existence of an absurdly broken immigration system. Under President Obama the violent end to ICE raids in the work place was won, but it was not free. Instead, the Obama administration launched a Machiavellian strategy of securing the country by unleashing its own and unexpected campaign of persecution and deportation, police programs and the expansion of employment verification. The year long effort has unveiled ironic results considered by DHS Director Janet Napolitano, as proof, that the nation is secured and the country is ready for full immigration reform. Astonishingly, the battle cry could be enhanced by the fact the undocumented population has depleted to 10.8 million.

Accompanying these developments are several revealing political and organizational achievements that have been amassing steadily for over a year. On the one hand these include the 2008 elections and the defeat of the right, in which the Latino and immigrant vote played a pivotal role, especially in the former battleground states. The high-level White House meeting on immigration along with the continuing statements of support for reform by the president, senior officials and key federal legislators. The national surveys and academic studies that point to a well known favorable public opinion in support for legalization and that in fact it is essential for the country’s economic recovery(DR. Raul Hinojosa UCLA). The departure of Lou Dobbs from CNN and the recent presentation of Congressman Gutierrez immigration bill in the house, co-signed by 92 congressional Democrats from the Hispanic, African American, Asian and Progressive Caucuses.

Most important are the persistent educational and motivational campaigns along with protests proliferating nationally, including the entrance of this social movement into the electronic arena with its nets roots environment deploying effectively hundreds of thousands of emails, faxes and texts as well telephone meetings of up to 60,000 attendees. All this combined with summit meetings and lobbying in the capital.

Also, a month on the road is a dramatic marathon hike of 2.414 kilometers, from Florida to Washington DC, by four undocumented university students, culminating on May 1st. And the fasts or hunger strikes are growing parallel with the continuing protests and legal complaints against the infamous separation of families. In Chicago, the city council adopted a resolution in favor of immigration reform. In Phoenix 20.000 protested against conservative Sheriff Arpaio. In Detroit, as in other cities, 2,000 people gathered to plan their lobbying work and in Los Angeles over a thousand activists attended a fired up rally headlined by Luis Gutierrez.

Furthermore, with plans to mobilize by land and air tens of thousands to the March 21st national demonstration, the massive preparations are speedily advancing already heralding a huge success. In fact, the Hermandad Mexicana Trans-Nacional, based in California and Nevada, has already reserved the flights for a hundred of its members, 100% women “adelitas”. And amazingly all the funds for airfare, hotels, meals and ground transportation are being raised grass roots, including a Mexican wrestling match.

Added to the outpour of multiple and eclectic activities is a well funded national movement, more professional and multifaceted, different from the May 1st street groups. Organized and composed of large social sectors and coalitions, NGOs, Reform Immigration for America, Center for Community Change, FIRM, unions, the churches, etc., this movement can be observed moving in unity and in alliance -partnership- with progressive forces and legislative lobbyists in the beltway and Congress pushing the political process.

Indisputably the principal national figure has turned out to be the Chicago Puerto Rican (D)Congressman Luis Gutierrez who in 2009 headed the historic “National Campaign of Familias Unidas” with rallies of thousands in more than 20 cities. Inherently within this broad display of participating social forces, parts of the national grass roots movement that led millions of immigrant demonstrators unto the streets and also boycotted the economy since early 2006 is also included.

It is obvious that we are in the dynamics of the last stage of a 24-year struggle to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Also more than obvious is that the present national movement is a logical extension of this social struggle, with more leadership skills it sought and found unity and is moving so far under a national strategy. Similar to the epoch of 2006, but contributing its own characteristics, as a whole, the process of today has already entered the massive and irreversible galvanization that apparently is about to reach the coveted goal, the big prize, immigration reform.

*A clarification. This piece does not include an analysis of any bills with a comparative to international human rights principles. Nor a deeper look into the leadership of said movement and its principal organizations, their political trajectories and ideological roots. It also does not contain a look into the more radical and hard sectors, its divisions and its present vision or strategy. In spite of other writing priorities, I expect to broaden this article and offer my critical contributions on this points in the following days.



* Javier Rodriguez, a Media-Political Strategist, is a co-founder of the National Coalition for Fair Immigration Laws and Practices 1973-78, CASA 1971 -78, the Coalition for Visas and Rights for the Undocumented 1982-90, California Latinos for Jesse Jackson 1984, the March 25 Coalition 2006, May 1st National Movement 2007 and Paramento Migrante Mexico City 2007. As a progressive journalist, has also published for the LA Times La Opinion, Eastern Group Publications, Uno Mas Uno-Mexico, syndicated with Hispanic Link, ZMAG.org, Newtorkaztlan.com and STN's Portaluno.com. He is now writing his experiences and perspective as a leading activist in the Immigrant Rights Movement, including the making of 25 March 2006 For which he was the initiator.

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